The bird flu virus has officially arrived in Italy. Several dead swans infected with the H5N1 virus were recently discovered in the southern regions of Calabria and Sicily. Italian poultry sales have plummeted by 70%, despite reassurances from the government and world organisations that the virus has not spread to the country’s chicken farms.
The Italian Farmers Confederation (CIA) said that, following the news, eight out of ten consumers refused to buy poultry. Millions of euros of business have already been lost since last October.
Agriculture Minister Giovanni Alemanno announced that Italy would help chicken farmers hit by the crisis, even if the measures fail to get approval from the European Union.
In the meantime environmental police have taken precautionary measures and impounded thousands of chickens and eggs in the southern regions of Calabria, Puglia and Sicily. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation have stepped in to offer support, praising the country for doing an exemplary job in containing the virus.